Free course

Succeeding in postgraduate study

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Succeeding in postgraduate study

This badged open course, Succeeding in postgraduate study, will introduce you to the nature of Master's level study. It offers essential preparation for pursuing your learning at this level.

Watch the following trailer in which the authors, Eric Addae-Kyeremeh and Payam Rezaie, introduce the course.


This free course will help you to become familiar with the requirements and demands of postgraduate study, and to develop the skills and confidence to pursue your learning further. It will help you to consider some conventions for critiquing academic writing and develop your understanding of the challenges of demonstrating critical awareness of a subject area. It will also help you to communicate original ideas or a new perspective clearly and within coherent structures, making use of appropriate scholarly and research literature. 

You will explore the need to draw on theories, models, frameworks and evidence to support your writing, compare contrasting theoretical arguments, explain convincingly why you find an argument (position or standpoint) particularly compelling, and begin to be able to explain the implications of argument for your own practice within academic or professional contexts. You will also learn to plan and manage your studies, and reflect on your own learning. Parts of this course will introduce you to aspects of studying for Master's by distance learning, and communicating in an online environment.

The course covers four thematic areas (over eight sessions):

  1. The nature of Master's level study and distance learning
  2. Essential information and digital literacy skills for postgraduate study
  3. Some approaches to critical thinking, analysis and reflection
  4. Applying critical and reflective thinking in academic and professional contexts.

You will find this course useful if you are planning to study at postgraduate level. It will also be helpful if you are re-engaging with postgraduate study after a period of absence from academic study. If you are planning to move on to postgraduate study soon, do make sure that you complete this course well in advance of the start date of your postgraduate course. 

This course can be started at any time. You can work through the eight sessions at your own pace, and there are no restrictions on the length of time required to complete this course. As a guide, if you were to study one 3-hour session each week, then it is possible to complete the course over an eight-week period. Should you find that you do have time and wish to press on, you can complete the course over a shorter timescale to suit your circumstances. It's worth noting that everyone studies at a different pace, and the course may therefore take you more or less than the estimated 24 hours. Completing this course ahead of the start date for your intended postgraduate degree programme will ensure that you are better prepared for your postgraduate studies.

Enrolling on this course will give you the opportunity to earn an Open University digital badge. Badges are not accredited by The Open University but they are a great way to demonstrate your interest in the subject, your further learning and commitment to your career, and to provide evidence of continuing professional development.

Once you are signed in, you can manage your digital badges online from My OpenLearn. In addition, you can download and print your OpenLearn statement of participation – which also displays your Open University badge.

Succeeding in postgraduate study

Earn this free Open University digital badge if you complete this course! The badge can be displayed, shared and downloaded as a marker of your achievement. The badge is awarded for completing the course and passing the quizzes.

Course learning outcomes

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • understand the requirements and demands of academic study at Master's level
  • recognise and begin to apply some of the conventions of academic and reflective writing expected at postgraduate level
  • carry out a literature search around a familiar subject and cite and reference literature within a short piece of original text
  • compare and evaluate different arguments and perspectives on a particular issue
  • begin to apply critical and reflective thinking in academic and professional contexts.

First Published: 09/05/2016

Updated: 04/11/2019

You can start this course right now without signing-up. Click on any of the course content sections below to start at any point in this course.
If you want to be able to track your progress, earn a free Statement of Participation, and access all course quizzes and activities, sign-up.

Course content

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